Radon

Radon is a natural, tasteless, odorless, colorless, radioactive gas produced from the decay of uranium found in nearly all soils. Radon comes from the natural radioactive decay of radium and uranium found in the soil beneath the house. The amount of radon in the soil depends on soil chemistry, which varies from one house to the next. Radon levels in the soil range from a few hundred to several thousands of pCi/L.
Radon can get into homes or buildings through small cracks or holes and build up to higher levels. Over time, breathing in high radon levels can cause lung cancer.
Radon News
 January is Radon Action Month!

Why is radon a concern?
Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Radon gas moves from the ground under and around your home and can enter your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Nearly one out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. The amount of radon that escapes from the soil to enter the house depends on the weather, soil porosity, soil moisture, and the suction within the house. Nationally, radon contributes to about 21,000 deaths per year from lung cancer. The risk of developing lung cancer increases as the concentration and length of exposure to radon increases.
Who is at risk?
In Tennessee we have high levels of radon in our soils. Everyone exposed to radon over generally a long period of time is at risk for lung cancer. Many scientists believe children may run an even greater risk from radon exposure than adults, and smokers are definitely at greater risk than nonsmokers.
How can the risk be reduced?
You can reduce radon levels in homes by preventing radon entry, increasing ventilation, and removing radon along with its decay products from the air. When radon testing indicates elevated levels, a trained Tennessee-certified radon mitigation technician is the best choice to correct the problem. Preventing radon entry is the preferred approach. One of the most effective techniques is ventilation of the soil under the home so radon is sucked away before it can enter. This method is called active soil depressurization (ASD). A system to accomplish this can be installed in an existing home, or more economically installed during the construction of a new home. It is the most common and usually the most reliable radon-reduction method. Suction can be applied to sumps, drain tiles, block walls, and under membranes in crawl spaces. A fan draws the radon through sealed plastic pipes, releasing it to the outdoor air above the roofline.
How to test your home for radon?
All homeowners should measure radon levels in their homes. A do-it-yourself radon test is economical, easy to use, reliable, and readily available. Tennesseans can request a free home test from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

Your testing process should begin with a short-term test of two to seven days. If your result is over 4 pCi/L follow up with either a second short-term test or a long-term test. Long-term tests give a better understanding of average radon levels. Short-term tests get results quickly. If either the average result of the two short-term tests or the result of a long-term test is over 4 pCi/L, you should consider taking steps to reduce radon levels.

Any radon testing kit you receive will come with instructions on use, specifically the period of time the device should be exposed. The most popular, commercially available detectors are short-term charcoal canister or pouches, and the long-term alpha track detector. Follow the instructions on the test and test in the lowest livable level of the home.

After exposure, canisters and detectors should be sealed and immediately returned to the laboratory for analysis to determine the radon level to which the device was exposed. Results should be provided to you within 30 days. You can be confident in the test results if you follow instructions carefully and immediately return the test kit to the laboratory.